Molecules, Vol. 26, Pages 6349: Red Light-Emitting Water-Soluble Luminescent Iridium-Containing Polynorbornenes: Synthesis, Characterization and Oxygen Sensing Properties in Biological Tissues in Vivo (Molecules)
New water-soluble polynorbornenes P1–P4 containing oligoether, amino acid groups and luminophoric complexes of iridium(III) were synthesized by ring-opening metathesis polymerization. The polymeric products in organic solvents and in water demonstrate intense photoluminescence in the red spectral region. The polymers P1 and P3 with 1-phenylisoquinoline cyclometalating ligands in iridium fragments reveal 4–6 fold higher emission quantum yields in solutions than those of P2 and P4 that contain iridium complexes with 1-(thien-2-yl)isoquinoline cyclometalating ligands. The emission parameters of P1–P4 in degassed solutions essentially differ from those in the aerated solutions showing oxygen-dependent quenching of phosphorescence. Biological testing of P1 and P3 demonstrates that the polymers do not penetrate into live cultured cancer cells and normal skin fibroblasts and do not possess cytotoxicity within the concentrations and time ranges reasonable for biological studies. In vivo, the polymers display longer phosphorescence lifetimes in mouse tumors than in muscle, as measured using phosphorescence lifetime imaging (PLIM), which correlates with tumor hypoxia. Therefore, preliminary evaluation of the synthesized polymers shows their suitability for noninvasive in vivo assessments of oxygen levels in biological tissues.